Sue Walker

Sue Walker

Guest Blogger at See Full Details
Sue is a Registered Nurse and holds a Masters Degree in Primary Health Care majoring in Palliative Care. Sue has extensive experience both as a clinician, educator, and senior manager in the aged care, mental health, and palliative care settings.
Sue Walker

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Are Young Female Suicides Increasing

This paper reviewed suicide rates from 2004 – 2014 in young people aged between 10 and 24 years old in Australia.

The link to the full article is here>>

Between 2004 and 2014, 3709 young Australians aged 10–24 years died by suicide. Whilst, overall, youth suicide rates did not increase significantly in Australia between 2004 and 2014, there was a significant increase in suicide rates for females (incident rate ratio [IRR] 1.03, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01 to 1.06), but not males. Rates were consistently higher among Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander youth, males, and in older (20–24-years) as compared to younger (15–19 years) age groups. Overall, the odds of using hanging as a method of suicide increased over time among both males and females, whilst the odds of using drug-poisoning did not change over this period.

The key findings were:

The rate of young female suicide has increased over the last 10 years

The rate for young men has also risen and remains higher than young women but has not increased as much. This result is reflected in all OECD countries. The current suicide prevention strategies do not appear to be having an influence on the number of suicides in this age group in Australia.

Indigenous status

Indigenous young people are consistently over-represented in Australian suicide statistics, raising the possibility that a rise in young female suicide rates may be driven in part by increases among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females in particular.

In young indigenous women, the rates of suicide are 4 times higher than non-indigenous young people of the same age.

Method

Young women are now using more lethal methods of suicide than in the past, with hanging now being the most used method in Australia and other OECD countries. Poisoning is the next method used.

What now

Suicide is a sad and emotional issue to acknowledge and explore. What this study has found is that “Young females engage in more help-seeking behavior, and more often speak about their difficulties with peers and professionals compared with young males. Therefore, opportunities exist to provide more targeted, responsive and effective support for young females, when and where they seek help.”

The current suicide intervention strategies appear not to be making inroads into prevention of suicide and require review. There are a number of organisations working diligently towards this cause – maybe what we also need is a more open discussion within the healthcare sector to educate all health care professionals on suicide and mental health in general so that we can become more responsive to the clients we come into contact with.